Can Riding a Motorcycle Damage Your Hearing?

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Whether riding a motorcycle can damage your hearing is a common question among riders or future riders. We will be analyzing what effect the noise from a motorcycle can have on your hearing and whether it can damage your hearing or not.

Riding a motorcycle can damage your hearing. Especially if you are constantly being exposed to excess noise by riding without earplugs.

What exactly happens when you ride a motorcycle without earplugs? How long does it take to lose your hearing? How can you prevent permanent hearing loss?  Let us take a look at how exactly riding a motorcycle can damage your hearing.

How Can Riding a Motorcycle Damage Your Hearing?


On average, a motorcycle’s engine noise is about 90 decibels (dB). Many motorcycles, on the other hand, make noises that exceed 100 decibels, which is loud enough to warrant ear protection. The problem comes when riders do not wear ear protection.

According to the United States Department of Labor, exposure to noise of over 100 decibels can cause hearing damage in about fifteen minutes.

Usually, people assume that the noise from motorcycle engines is the main cause of hearing loss among riders. However, according to many studies, wind noise is the leading cause of hearing loss among riders. The quantity of noise turbulence created around the rider’s head when in motion is referred to as wind noise. When proper hearing protection is not used, you are at risk of losing your hearing permanently over time.

The third cause of hearing loss in motorcycle riders is a disease known as Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS). Excessive loud exposure over an extended period causes TTS, which temporarily lowers your acute hearing pattern. That is, your hearing has deteriorated since before the exposure. TTS exposure over an extended period will cause permanent hearing damage.

How to Prevent Hearing Loss When Riding a Motorcycle?


Usually, all riders wear protective gear like helmets. Unfortunately, no full-coverage helmet can provide you with hearing protection.

When riding a motorbike, wearing earplugs is the best way to protect your hearing and prevent hearing loss.


Even the cheap foam earplugs from a drugstore provide substantial protection to your ears. What matters is not exactly the price but how you insert them into your ears.

So, whether you are going for cheap earplugs or expensive ones, what matters is that you protect your hearing with earplugs.

Another way to prevent hearing loss when riding is to find a quiet helmet. There are smart helmets that feature noise-canceling technology, with inflatable noise-reduction muffs that physically wrap the ears for motorcycle riders.

Other ways to avoid hearing loss include:

  • Avoid high-speed runs that generate a lot of wind noise.
  • Wear earmuffs, which can be turned on and off and are attached to the helmet on the inside.
  • If you want to listen to music while riding, use noise-canceling headphones instead of turning up the volume to drown out engine or wind noise.

Final Thoughts

It is easy to get lost in the thrill of going for a fast ride on your motorcycle. However, if you care about your hearing in the long term, you must take protective measures against hearing loss. Wearing earplugs or any other protective device is not a matter of luxury, but a necessity.

It is important to remember the shocking fact that exposure to noise above 100dB can cause permanent hearing damage in as short as fifteen minutes. So, once again, protective devices are a necessity. 


Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative Government, educational and nonprofit organizations:


About the author:

Michael Parrotte started his career in the motorcycle industry by importing AGV Helmets into the North American market. He was then appointed the Vice President of AGV Helmets America, total he worked with AGV Helmets for 25 years. In addition, he functioned as a consultant for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, and Sparx Helmets.

In 1985 he is the founded AGV Sports Group in cooperation with AGV Helmets

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